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The Illustrious Death of Saʿīd ibn Jubayr

Imām Ibn al-Jawzī, Ibn al-ʿAmmād al-Hanbalī

A story about unwavering faith in Allāh in the face of immense hardship.

Al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf sent for Saʿīd ibn Jubayr. His messenger met him in Makkah. From there, they travelled together for the span of three days. The messenger observed him fasting the days and standing the nights in prayer. The messenger said to him: “By Allāh! Indeed, I know that I am taking you to the one who will execute you. So flee, taking whichever route you please.” Saʿīd replied to him saying: “It shall reach Ḥajjāj that you had captured me. If you were to allow me to flee, I fear that he will kill you. So take me to him.” So the messenger proceeded with him.

When they entered upon Ḥajjāj, he said to Saʿīd: “What is your name?” Shaqī ibn Kusayr [the unhappy, wretched son of the defeated]?”

Saʿīd replied: “My mother named me [Saʿīd].”

Ḥajjāj said: “You are miserable [just as your mother was, all the same].”

Saʿīd replied: “The knowledge of the unseen is known by One other than you.”

Ḥajjāj said: “By Allāh! I shall exchange your current worldly life for that of a fiercely blazing Fire.”

So, Saʿīd replied: “If I knew that the control over such matters belonged to you, I would not worship anything other than you.”

He then asked Saʿīd regarding the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions, saying: “What do you say concerning Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)?”

Saʿīd replied: “He was a prophet with whom Allāh—the Most High—sealed the messengers and attested as to the truthfulness of the revelation. By him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) there is safety from complete destruction. He was a leader of guidance, a prophet of mercy.”

Ḥajjāj then asked: “What is your saying regarding the Khulafāʾ?”

He replied: “I am not set over them as a disposer of their affairs. I only seek to protect the matter of my religion.”

Ḥajjāj asked: “Which of them is most beloved to you?”

Saʿīd answered: “The most exemplary of them in manners, the most pleasing of them to their Creator, and the most severe of them in fear [of Allāh].”

Ḥajjāj said: “What do you say regarding ʿAlī and ʿUthmān, are they in Paradise or the Fire?”

Saʿīd replied: “If I had entered both Paradise and Hell, then I would be able to tell you the ones who reside therein. Why do you ask concerning matters that are unseen?”

Ḥajjāj asked: “What do you say regarding ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān?”

Saʿīd replied: “Why do you ask concerning a man who you represent but one of his many sins?”

Ḥajjāj said: “Why do you never laugh?

Saʿīd replied: “I do not see that which makes me laugh. How can that which is itself made from dust laugh while he knows that to dust he shall return?”

Ḥajjāj said: “Indeed, I laugh at playful banter and jokes.”

Saʿīd replied: “Not all hearts are the same.”

Ḥajjāj said: “Have you ever seen amusing entertainment?” as he called for a flute and some wood. When the flute was blown, Saʿīd began to weep.

Ḥajjaj asked: “Why do you weep?”

He replied: “It has reminded me of the day when the trumpet will be blown. As for these pieces of wood, they are from the earth’s vegetation and I fear that it was harvested without its right [because it is being used for ḥarām].”

Ḥajjāj said: “Your knowledge has, at last, finished. Thus, I shall bring that which harms you, not that which gladdens you.”

It was also narrated that Saʿīd said: “Yes, you have unjustly transgressed the limits set by Allāh, showed uncaring boldness in engaging in His disobedience by slaughtering His close allies and friends.”

Ḥajjaj replied: “By Allāh! I shall cleave you apart” and in another narration: “Indeed, I am going to execute you.”

Saʿīd replied: “Indeed, Allāh—the Exalted in Might—has set a preappointed time for me which I will eventually reach. If my time has arrived, then it is a foregone matter and I have no escape from it for even a moment. If it is safety from this, then Allāh—the Most High—is more befitting of being sought for it.”

He (رحمه الله) also said: “[If you kill me], then you would have only ruined my worldly life, while destroying your own life in the hereafter. For the rule of qiṣāṣ [legislative taking a life for murder] is before you.”

Ḥajjāj replied: “Woe to you!”

Saʿīd replied: “[Nay], woe to the one who has been removed from Paradise and made to enter the Fire.”

Ḥajjāj said: “Take him and sever his throat.”

Saʿīd then said: “Indeed, I testify that there is nothing worshipped in truth except for Allāh, and I testify that Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is the Messenger of Allāh. Protect these words well O Ḥajjāj! Until I meet you on the Day of Judgement.” Then, when he was taken to be slaughtered, he smiled.

So, Ḥajjāj said: “Why are you laughing?”

Saʿīd replied: “From the uncaring boldness that you display before Allāh—the Exalted in Might, and Allāh’s—the Exalted, the High—forbearance with regards to you.”

He commanded that he was made to lie down for execution. When they laid him down, he said:

وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِيَ لِلَّذِي فَطَرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ

“I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth”
(Al-Anʿām, 6:79)

Ḥajjāj commanded that his back be turned towards the direction of the qiblah. So, Saʿīd recited:

فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ

“So wherever you turn yourselves or your faces there is the Face of Allāh (and He is High above, over His Throne).”
(Al-Baqarah, 2:115)

So, Ḥajjāj commanded that they throw him down on his face. So, Saʿīd recited:

مِنْهَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ وَفِيهَا نُعِيدُكُمْ وَمِنْهَا نُخْرِجُكُمْ تَارَةً أُخْرَىٰ

“Thereof (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again.”
(Ṭā Há, 20:55)

Ḥajjāj commanded that they sever his throat.

Saʿīd said: “O Allāh! My blood is not permissible for him, so give him no respite after my demise.”

When he was slaughtered, his blood flowed. It was so plentiful that it overflowed until it reached under the bed of Ḥajjāj. When he saw it, he became frightful, full of trepidation and fear. To the extent that he called for a physician and asked him concerning this blood. The physician answered: “It is because you executed him without slaughtering him properly. Thus, his blood flowed rather than coagulating within his body. Allāh—the Exalted in Might—has not created a being with more blood than the human being.” Ḥajjāj’s fear continued to the extent that it prevented him from sleep. He would say: “What is left between myself and you O Saʿīd ibn Jubayr?” While in his state, if he managed to sleep, he would see Saʿīd in his dream holding him by his collar saying: “O enemy of Allāh! Why did you put me to death?” Upon which he would awaken in a state of terror, saying: “What is left for me with Ibn Jubayr?”

When the news of the execution of Saʿīd reached al-Ḥasan ibn Abī al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, he said: O Allāh! The One who shatters the tyrants, shatter Ḥajjāj.” Ḥajjāj lived for three days. After which, a small worm entered his belly which caused his demise.

Source: Al-Thabāt: 139-140 and Shadharāt al-Dhahab 1:384-386
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: December 22, 2023
Edited: December 22, 2023

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